Amazing Grace

“‘We are here for a religious service,’ gospel legend Reverend James Cleveland reminds his audience in Los Angeles’s New Temple Missionary Baptist Church at the start of Amazing Grace. It also happens to be a concert, and a recording session: Over two nights in 1972, Aretha Franklin, then at the height of her fame, came here to record a selection of gospel classics, the music of her youth. The result was one of the most acclaimed albums of her career — and one of the most elusive film projects of all time.

“Director Sydney Pollack documented both nights with a small army of 16 mm cameras, but apparently he didn’t slate the sound and picture properly, making the resulting mountain of material virtually impossible to edit. Years later, producer Alan Elliott bought the footage and, with editor Jeff Buchanan, put together this concert documentary, only to have Aretha Franklin herself sue to prevent its screening. Nobody’s quite sure why she didn’t want the movie seen. But with the singer’s recent passing and the enthusiastic consent of her family, we can now witness it.” - Vulture

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